Private Schools vs. Government Schools – Which are better?


(This post was first published in Logos, The Takshashila Institute's blog)

It may seem obvious to some that private schools are indeed better as the phrase ‘private schools’ is considered synonymous with quality education by many, but there is more to the issue than meets the eye. Before choosing one type of school over the other it might therefore be prudent to first answer a few additional questions.
What do we mean by private schools? 
There is a spectrum of private schools that ranges from schools charging Rs.50/- per month to schools charging Rs. 6 lakh per annum. In the debate about private schools vs government schools, ‘private schools’ are generally understood to mean low cost private schools. These are the schools most often chosen by people moving their children out of government schools.

The Third Caveat of Randomized Control Trials: Intra-hypothesis Validity

(This post was first published in Logos, The Takshashila Institute's blog)
Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) have gained significant popularity in recent days. This blog post tries to explore one of the nuances in interpreting the results of such evaluations.
For beginners, a RCT is a type of experiment used to test causal links. The subjects of the experiment are split into two groups; the ‘Control group’ which doesn’t get the treatment/intervention and the ‘Treatment group’ which receives the treatment/intervention. This is a common division in such experiments but in RCTs the people are assigned randomly to these two groups. This is to ensure: (i) that there are no observable and unobservable differences between both the groups at the beginning of the study; (ii) that any changes in the external factors are uniform across both the groups. This enables the conductors to reliably attribute any difference between the outcomes of the control group and treatment group only to the intervention.

The Ten Commandments for school education reform in India

Any major reform process broadly follows three stages.
  1. Change in mindset: Most of the major reforms have an underlying philosophy or a frame of thinking behind them. At this stage, the major battle is about changing this mind set.
  2. Transition: After the underlying philosophy is turned into specific policy, the next stage is the transition from old system to new system and trying to smoothen the edges.
  3. Policy in action: The implementation of the policy and trying to tighten the nuts and bolts. 
I would argue that most of of the things in education are still stuck in the first stage and there is lot to be done here. There isn't much that has happened and hence not much data on how these things play out in action to be able to make an in depth analysis and recommendations. In this context, I will stick to the first stage and only share the broad frameworks and guidelines which can act as pointers to specific policies.

A note be fore moving ahead: These needn't be the only commandments and they needn't be exactly ten. This terminology is just for convenience.

Why not to blog?

I have decided to resume blogging after a long time. I always wanted to have a blog of my own, and write cool things. I started doing it for some time while in college but then I stopped. I am writing this blog post to share why not to blog. More specifically, why did I stop blogging? The points below are not in any particular order.
  1. Head rush:  When I try to write something, all the thoughts come gushing into my mind causing a slight head ache. This is a strange barrier to start putting down thoughts on paper.
  2. Opinions change: Opinions change with time. Most people don't appreciate these nuances. So, you would want to write only after you are super confident but then that never happens because new evidence keeps coming up! Also, when you get into the practice of writing, you end up writing everything on your mind, even the not so opinionated thoughts and emotional thoughts. It feels childish to read some earlier posts of yours which embarrass you.